Another line of severe storms rolled through the Carolinas early yesterday, a day after severe weather that produced snow, hail and heavy rains in some places.
A severe thunderstorm watch remained in effect for many counties in central South Carolina, and high wind warnings were in effect in the mountains of North Carolina.
A special marine warning was issued for much of the South Carolina coast, warning residents and boaters of waterspouts, which can overturn boats and produce dangerously high waves.
Forecasters at the US National Weather Service warned Carolinas residents to keep weather radios and cellphones handy as the storms threatened to interrupt their sleep in the early hours of yesterday.
The weather service said the devices would be needed to awaken people to the possibility of torrential rain and possible tornadoes expected to arrive overnight and last well after sunrise.
An initial round of storms across the southeast on Wednesday produced one large tornado and reports of more than half-a-dozen smaller twisters. Trees were toppled and power lines were brought down in Georgia, while heavy rains drenched areas of Alabama and South Carolina.
The severe weather outbreak was the second to hit the US’ south in less than a week, but no deaths or significant injuries were reported by Wednesday evening.
Storms on Sunday and Monday killed five people, including a Mississippi woman who desperately called emergency services from a car that plunged into a rain-swollen creek.
Portions of Kentucky and Georgia were still under threat of tornadoes late on Wednesday, while flash flooding was possible in the Atlanta area, according to the US National Weather Service.
Authorities in Johnston, South Carolina, a town of 2,300 that calls itself the peach capital of the world, reported that a possible tornado there damaged about a dozen buildings.
Crews could not immediately check nearby peach orchards, but authorities said those were already severely damaged by a hard freeze lat last month.
Johnston Mayor Terrence Cullbreath said that he opened a local armory as a shelter and that lights were out and many streets were blocked by fallen trees, while thousands had lost power across the three states, with utilities struggling to keep up.
“We need power back, but there likely are more storms coming and they can’t get the power back in bad weather,” Cullbreath said by telephone.
In southwest Georgia, a powerful tornado that touched down at midday traveled some distance on the ground in rural Stewart County, National Weather Service meteorologist Keith Stellman said.
It left downed power lines and trees on roads, said Sandra James, a sheriff’s office dispatcher.
Elsewhere, a suspected tornado touched down in Alabama before crossing into Georgia, forecasters said.
All told at least nine possible tornados had been reported across Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina as the day wore on.
In Alabama, the storm hit an area dotted with vacation and fulltime homes near Lake Eufaula, damaging some homes and knocking down power lines and trees, Henry County Emergency Management Agency official John Taylor said.
Tornadoes were not the only threat.
The US Storm Prediction Center said winds were blowing at near 110kph in some areas, downing trees in several states.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency and deployed 50 National Guard soldiers.
There also were multiple school closings in Alabama and many early dismissals in South Carolina.
The US Federal Aviation Administration temporarily halted flights to Atlanta’s airport, but those later resumed with arrival and departure delays.
As storms bore down on Augusta National, the venerable east Georgia club shut down for the second time this week as golfers tried to get in some practice before the start of the Masters tournament yesterday.
Officials cut short the final afternoon practice and ordered rain-bedraggled fans to leave the course.
Augusta National also closed Monday because of heavy rain.
In the east Alabama city of Oxford, convenience store manager Don Copeland was working up the courage to go outside and look at his truck after a storm dumped so much grape-sized hail that the ground turned white.
“It’s a 2015 [model vehicle]. I just made a [US]$550 payment this morning,” Copeland said.
The weather service said it had gotten reports of baseball-sized hail in the west Alabama town of Camden.
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